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Transcript of interview with Kieran Gilbert: Sky News AM Agenda, Canberra: 17 July 2015: MH17 anniversary; Iran nuclear deal; Peter Greste

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Sky News AM Agenda, Canberra - interview with Kieran Gilbert

Subjects: MH17 anniversary, Iran nuclear deal, Peter Greste.

Transcript, E&OE

17 July 2015


More now on the anniversary of the MH17 tragedy. I spoke to the Foreign Minister Julie

Bishop and began by asking her about this new footage that has emerged.


Good morning Kieran.

It is disgusting to watch that video footage. I can’t verify the authenticity of it but it is certainly consistent with all

that we were told, the advice that we received 12 months ago that flight MH17 had been shot down by a missile in

Eastern Ukraine and that the pro-Russian separatists were involved. This footage is very disturbing and coming as

it does, exactly 12 months to the day, just adds to the inconsolable grief that the families and friends of the victims

aboard that flight must be feeling today.


And obviously it is going to be a poignant day, a very difficult day, for those individuals, those

families that you’ve had a fair bit to do with over the last 12 months Minister.


Yes, I’ve kept in contact with a number of the families and our consular staff from the Department

of Foreign Affairs and Trade have continued to maintain contact with the families of those Australians aboard that

flight. It will be, I’m sure, a very moving and very sombre day for the almost 200 family members who are coming

to Canberra for this national memorial service. There will be a plaque unveiled by the Prime Minister with the

names of the Australian residents and citizens and then there will be a service in the Great Hall as well where we

pay our respects to those innocent passengers aboard that flight.


If we reflect now on that day 12 months ago when you found out it must have been a moment

of just complete shock at this unspeakable horror.


I’ll never forget the phone call in the middle of the night, the 18th of July in our time, but it was the

17th of July in Europe, and being told that a Malaysian Airline, which shocked me for a start, another Malaysian

Airline flight, had been shot down over Eastern Ukraine and that all 298 passengers and crew on board were killed

and that included a number of Australians.

I remember it like it was yesterday and the news got worse during the next day as we found that there were more

Australians on board than we initially feared. But that’s why we were so determined to go to the United Nations

and get international backing for a ceasefire of the conflict in Ukraine so that we could get access to the site,

retrieve the bodies and remains and belongings of all those on board and then commence the investigation so

that those responsible for this atrocity can be held to account.

That’s why we are calling on the UN Security Council again to support the establishment of an International

Criminal Tribunal so that the findings of the investigation that has been underway for almost 12 months can be

sent to that tribunal and prosecutions can begin without delay.


Obviously that was a big focus of yours when Australia was at the table of the UN Security

Council. Does this footage that has been attained by News Corp, it has been sent to the investigators, the News

Corp footage - does that, in your view, affect anything or in terms of where the Dutch investigation, the Dutch-lead

investigation was at. It was pretty clear who was responsible.


I’m not aware of the status of this footage. I’m assuming that the Dutch Safety Board and the

independent investigation has a copy of it and they can authenticate it but it is consistent with what we were

advised at the time and it is shocking to view it. It is quite repulsive to see the actions of these separatists just

moments after the crash and to see them going through the luggage and it dawning on them that they had been

responsible for the death of so many civilians, the passengers and crew on board that fateful flight.


Obviously there is still grief among the families of the victims but there is also obviously a

sense that they want justice to be dealt to those responsible. How far away do you think that is before culprits are

identified and brought to justice?


Well five nations - Australia, the Netherlands, Ukraine, Belgium and Malaysia - have been

involved as a Joint Investigation Taskforce supporting the work of the independent investigation and we five have

called on the UN Security Council to establish an Independent Criminal Tribunal. This will not be easy because a

number of countries will take differing positions and it was not easy last time to get a unanimous resolution and I

don’t expect it to be any easier this time but I intend to travel to New York.

I’ve been in touch with my counterpart foreign ministers in the Netherlands, Malaysia and also a number of other

foreign ministers who represent countries that are no non-permanent members of the Security Council because of

course the composition of the Security Council has changed amongst the temporary members since last year. We

are working closely with the P5, we appealed to Russia to support this establishment of a tribunal. It is the next

logical step in the procedure that was set up under the initial resolution and that is to establish an Independent

Criminal Tribunal to prosecute those responsible for this.


Does the intransigence of Putin mean that justice might never be dealt out here?


We should not give up. We should continue to work with Russia and all countries to ensure that

we can establish a tribunal otherwise it would be just turning the page on an atrocity where a civilian plane, in

civilian air space was shot down from the skies. We must never allow that to happen again. This goes to the heart

of international peace and security and the security surrounding civil aviation. So it is an exceedingly important


The Security Council was seized of it last year and I believe should remain seized of the matter by establishing an

International Criminal Tribunal. And there are precedents for this, there have been examples in the past where the

Security Council has backed the establishment of a criminal tribunal and we want it to do so in this instance.


I want to ask you a couple of other issues if I can? On the Iranian deal, was this really

achieved with the US wanting to secure an outcome in part because the Iranians share the same enemy with the

US, and of course us, in the form of the so-called Islamic State?


I don’t believe that that was the primary consideration at all. I believe that the P5 +1 - that’s the

United States and others, are determined to constrain, limit, freeze, Iranian progress on a nuclear program and so

their driving desire is the non-proliferation of nuclear weapons in the Middle East in particular and Iran had a

nuclear program. It was not subject to the international inspections regime. As a result of this agreement Iran will

become part of the international inspections regime and that’s why we welcome it.

We are very cautious however because Iran has to complete its side of the bargain and that involves inspections

at each and every stage of its nuclear programs and it means Iran must comply with the specific detail and terms

of this agreement.

So Australia has sanctions imposed on Iran for its nuclear program and related activities. We will review our

sanctions once we are satisfied that Iran has completed its side of the bargain and that that has been verified by

the international inspectors.


Do you think it could have a liberalising effect on Iran given that population of 77 million, that if

the economy starts to do better as an emerging economy, that it might have the liberalising effect on that nation

moving forward?


In a perfect world Iran would become engaged as a responsible member of the international

community. I was in Tehran earlier this year, I know that the sanctions have been having an impact and that the

public were very keen for the P5 + 1 deal to be concluded so that the sanctions could be lifted. They are suffering

under the sanctions and therefore the sanctions have been having their desired effect.

There’s been a change of heart in the leadership as President Rohani and the Foreign Minister Zarif have worked

exceedingly hard to ensure that this agreement was concluded as have the other countries represented. So if Iran

takes steps towards becoming a responsible and totally engaged international community member then that is a

very positive outcome.


My last question, we’ve got Peter Greste on Sky News a bit later today, my colleague Laura

Jayes will be speaking to Peter. The verdict in that trial, to be delivered on July 30 - what is the Government’s view

when it comes to this ongoing issue in the court? Many people might be surprised at that given Peter is now

home. What is the government’s view ahead of that verdict?


We have maintained our support for Peter Greste. I have maintained contact with Peter. In fact, I

spoke with the Egyptian Foreign Minister Shoukry last evening about this and other matters and reiterated to him

that we expect that Peter Greste will be freed from these charges.

He is home of course, we were able to secure his release, but it would be a travesty of justice if he were to be

found guilty of these charges in his absence and there were any punishment inflicted on him that would prevent

him carrying out his job as an international reporter and journalist.

So we have made our position plain to the Egyptian Government throughout and I’ve maintained contact with

Peter Greste about this and we certainly hope that the verdict on the 30 July will see Peter able to continue to

contribute to international media activities as a journalist.


Minister I appreciate your time. Thank you.

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